Poetry Month: Day Seventeen

When I tell people I’m moving to a city I’ve never been to at the end of the summer, a lot of them ask me how I’m going to get all my stuff there, then look at me funny when I say I don’t really have that much.

Sometimes We Throw Things in the Car, Fast

and take off, hurt, mad, kissing it all good-bye.
Most of us, maybe, have done that. I knew a woman once
threw an iced bucket, ten sweatshirts, and her high school
annual in the car, ripped out of the driveway spitting
gravel and didn't pull over until she heard a lone
killdeer cry on a farmer's fence post. I loved that woman.
I loved her crooked toes and her sweet seven-grain
bread fresh from the oven, and I loved the good fit
the front of my knees made with the backs of hers.
And much more. But she took off. I know why

she grabbed the sweatshirts, winter or summer
that's almost all she wears, and the ice bucket
(a gift from her maiden Aunt Jelly) she used for
cattails, her favorite quote flowers. But why that ugly
purple annual I'll never know--remembering high school
made her wince and shudder, and the annual's pompous
name, Veritas, she hated. The truth is, I don't know
if a killdeer stopped her or not. I only know
she likes their lonesome song, so every time
I hear one I imagine she had to stop. Maybe afraid
she also picked up the annual, read some gems

her classmates had penned in blues and greens
beside their pictures--as she did for me
one New Year's Eve when we polished off a bottle of cognac
in front of the fire, remembering things--remember the swell
times in Mr. Six's World Lit, and stay sweet as you are,
and good luck next year with your fabulous modeling career!
The modeling line gave her the giggles--made her say Wow,
that was close. Then she read something that made her say Oh.
And shake her head. Little Timmy Noonan, she said, touching
his small jerky script. I saw it. You are perfect, he wrote,

and appeared to wish he could disappear though his collar.
Maybe she didn't read the annual. Maybe she just looked
at some black cattle standing at ease in the pasture,
their moony eyes slowly turning to face her. No,
that's awful. The crooked silo full of holes and all
those swallows perched around the rim like wicked spitcurls
are no good either. Little Timmy Noonan never
knew her, she said. No one did. She left. And jerky
words, moony cattle, silos, or listening hard
to birds calling up their own worlds
beside the road--none of that will bring her back.

-Gary Gildner

Poem found in Annual Survey of American Poetry: 1985.

2 thoughts on “Poetry Month: Day Seventeen

  1. Love this poem! And I’ve done that four times already! Moving without ever being there. It’s exhilarating and I am excited for you! Be safe, angels will be sent to you everywhere you go.


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